It’s easy to get the wrong idea about physical therapy—you may enter a clinic only to see what appears to be a gym full of common exercise equipment and find yourself wondering what separates this space from your local gym. Both the question and the answer are far more nuanced than they appear.
Physical activity is necessary to a healthy lifestyle, and in the long winter months, that may mean weekly visits to your gym. The time you spend sweating on the elliptical will strengthen your heart, your treadmill session will burn a considerable amount of calories, and any weightlifting you do is likely to result in stronger muscle function. But what none of these practices do is relieve pain, at least not intentionally.
Physical therapy, on the other hand, consists of a customized plan, devised with the goal of pain relief, an increase in mobility, and a decrease in discomfort. You may leave a physical therapy session with the knowledge that certain gym equipment and certain exercises can assist in recovery—but it’s critical to recognize the knowledge component as being another key pillar of physical therapy. In physical therapy, patient education is vital to preventing the return of symptoms.
Physical therapy begins with a subjective evaluation and biomechanical examination. Once the structural and mechanical cause of the patient’s symptoms are identified and discussed, an individualized treatment program is designed. Physical therapy utilizes more than therapeutic stretching/strengthening exercises to restore pain-free function. Therapeutic modalities, i.e., cold/heat, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation can relieve pain and reduce inflammation, as can specialized massage, mobilization, and taping techniques.
Time spent in the gym can be remarkably satisfying, restorative, and necessary for maintaining your best health, but when issues of chronic pain or lack of mobility are the issue, there is no substitute for a skilled physical therapist.
Renew Physical Therapy is proud to serve Portland-area residents suffering from symptoms associated with auto and work-related injuries, chronic pain, elbow pain, foot and ankle pain, headaches, dizziness, hip pain, knee pain, neck and back pain, pre/post-operative rehabilitation, or shoulder pain.
Visit our About Us page to learn more about our practice, clinic, and staff.